Our correspondent in Bordeaux, Jay Taylor, reacts to the news that the CPE has been withdrawn.
Today is a victory for the anti-CPE movement. This has been a single issue campaign around the CPE and the major players can stand down now and save a degree of face. However, the CNE still remains on the books, there is a regressive Immigration bill in the works and an extreme law focusing on digital copyrights (a.k.a. the Vivendi law) lurking in the background. All of this is part of the neo-liberal back-drop being driven by the current French government. While the people have rolled back the CPE today, there are still plenty of issues in play.
The major left union groups and political parties that formed the backbone of the anti-CPE movement have been trying contain the movement by limiting the debate to just the CPE - but there are two important points to be made: Firstly, the anti-CPE movement has politicised a new generation of student activists and secondly the public debate within the country has brought into question the degree as to how modern neo-liberal capitalism is failing.
This isn't over yet - the news coverage I'm watching at the moment is saying that the National Student Co-ordination wants to continue until the Law on Equal Opportunity is withdrawn. The student movement has been invigorated and there will be a new leadership emerging from this experience; for them this is just the beginning. Today's events effectively provide a watershed for those who understand how global capitalism operates and those who only ever saw this as a single issue; a dodgy labour law. There is a fork in the road here.
For those like myself who are directly affected, those who are confronted by the choice between accepting work on the basis of a CNE or starving, it is a hollow victory. I do hope today means that the CNE will quietly be forgotten, but I can't be sure of that, so I will remain vigilant.
Spain and Germany are coming online with similar neo-liberal labour agendas, and this is why I think it is not over in a larger sense - because if the French can give inspiration to people in other countries (as they have done before), we might be watching an evolutionary tipping point.
More from Jay Taylor at http://jayzerz.blogspot.com